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Monday, January 27, 2014

Honi soit qui mal y pense-reflections on the Holocaust.

I have always been taken by this ancient motto which translates as evil be to him who evil thinks. Deliberate evil inflicted on the scale of the Holocaust  is what we tend to think of but there is a deeper and more dangerous evil in our society. It is the small daily evil of malicious thought and malicious words which go unchallenged by those of us who see it for what it truly is. How often do we read or hear comments which have underlying and unquestioned prejudice. It is these almost casual intolerances and slights which lead to the large scale horrors of the Holocaust and other atrocities of persecution. When evil goes unchallenged, it seeds and grows in poisoned soil. The whispers become invective. The lies become accepted as true. The tale grows in the unquestioned telling. 

First we have to question our own thoughts and think through whether our gut reaction of anger and resentment is based on fact or reality. We need to understand that the behaviour of one or some of a group, religion, nation is not the behaviour or characteristics of all. Then we must challenge and keep on challenging others to examine their own thought processes. We were designed to think analytically, to reflect on the patterns of our own thinking. Yet we are also creatures who process the world around us through the emotional brain with all the unconscious programming of others' words and actions from early childhood. We absorb like sponges what is around us and form much of our behaviour through the emotional filters of such experiences which we internalise as our own views. We must make conscious that which is unconscious, unthinking and irrational if we are to, change it.

Honi soit qui mal y pense -the evil that we think rebounds back upon all of us.

We allow the ugliness of the Holocaust when we fail to challenge our own thoughts and feelings.

We enable the Holocaust when we fail to challenge such thoughts and feelings in others.

Please do not walk by on the other side. Stop, think, speak out.

Do not accept the unacceptable.

I have seen evil so close by,
Toxic words slithering forth,
Fangs glistening poison,
Ready to strike,
Hearts and minds.

I have heard vindictive thoughts
Spew from a void of bottomless hate,
Under the guise of reason or love,
Venom flowing in every word.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Nurturing the body

So many of us struggle with our body image as did I for some fifty years. It was not until I made peace with my body that I was able to abandon diets, start to love myself as I was, that I began successful and sustained weight loss. Ten years ago I had the great privilege of joining a group of international writers under the auspices of the magnificent Julie Jordan Scott. We would meet on teleconference once a week and write to prompts, very intelligently and creatively by Julie. When she asked us to write to a quote which referred to praising the geography of our bodies. The following came pouring out. I believe it was a pivotal point in my journey towards peace with myself.

I praise my own geography, at last.

Each rolling contour, hill and valley,
Each scar upon the white stretched landscape,
Each familiar line marked deep with memory,
Laughter, sadness, joy.
Each softly pliant mound of flesh,
Silent repository of pleasures past,
Promise of pleasures yet to come.

I praise my own geography at last,
a terrain once hostile,
Familiar, beloved, home.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Some ghosts from the past.

I found the following musings from around 12 years ago in a life before cancer and which reflect my struggle with my weight. This had been a life long battle from very early childhood. It sucked so much spontaneity and joy from my life but it gave me a deep insight into mental suffering, the challenge of low self-esteem and the power of resilience to overcome.

It seems as though my body has something to say...

Once upon a time my belly rumbled,
Complaining in volcanic anger,
Feed me. Feed me now.

Spitting acid fountain flames of rage,
Against this self held other, alien,
Stranger, separate.
Feed me love. Feed me love.

And if you cannot feed me love,
Then feed me food.
Feed me so my cells may swell and burst,
Stuffed with fatty residues
Of what might and should and could have been.

Feed me so I may no longer feel.
Feed me until the numbness comes,
And I am deaf and dumb and blind
To the starvation of my heart.

Once upon a time, my belly rumbled
Burning in unquenchable fire
A hunger that could not be fed.

Like all good fairy tales,
My belly longs to say,
"It ended happy ever after
For now we are one,
In love with who and what we are,
Body mind and soul
Replete, complete and loved."

This is not a fairy tale.